Adaptation of a methanogenic consortium to arsenite inhibition

Lucia Rodriguez-Freire, Sarah E. Moore, Reyes Sierra-Alvarez, James A. Field

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Arsenic (As) is a ubiquitous metalloid known for its adverse effects to human health. Microorganisms are also impacted by As toxicity, including methanogenic archaea, which can affect the performance of a process in which biological activity is required (i.e., stabilization of activated sludge in wastewater treatment plants). The novel ability of a mixed methanogenic granular sludge consortium to adapt to the inhibitory effect of arsenic As was investigated by exposing the culture to approximately 0.92 mM of arsenite (AsIII) for 160 days in an arsenate (AsV)-reducing bioreactor using ethanol as the electron donor. The results of shaken batch bioassays indicated that the original, unexposed sludge was severely inhibited by AsIII as evidenced by the low 50 % inhibition concentrations (IC50) determined, i.e., 19 and 90 μM AsIII for acetoclastic and hydrogenotrophic methanogenesis, respectively. The tolerance of the acetoclastic and hydrogenotrophic methanogens in the sludge to AsIII increased 47-fold (IC50 = 910 μM) and 12-fold (IC50 = 1100 μM), respectively, upon long-term exposure to As. In conclusion, the methanogenic community in the granular sludge demonstrated a considerable ability to adapt to the severe inhibitory effects of As after a prolonged exposure period.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number414
JournalWater, Air, and Soil Pollution
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Pollution


  • Acclimation
  • Adaptation
  • Arsenic
  • Arsenite
  • Inhibition
  • Methanogenic
  • Toxicity


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